How To Carve Out More Time For Ourselves, According To An Expert
It's always ironic to me that millennials are often called the "me" generation, because I find that one of the last things I ever have time for is myself. Technology means that we're expected to be constantly accessible to work, friends, and family, and carving out time for ourselves — time to just sit, think, and (gasp) not be productive for a few minutes — is usually pretty scarce.
My planner is full of tasks and responsibilities that need to get done, and I've had times in life where — thanks to my client-friendly company and the invention of the smart phone — my work day literally only stopped when I went to bed each night.
Because life is so fast-paced, and it doesn't seem like the world is going to slow it's roll any time soon, I reached out to Life Coach Audra Erwin over email to get some advice on how to actually slow down and create some me time. She wrote back with some incredibly helpful advice, as well as a few super interesting points about why carving out time for ourselves is important in the first place.
If you're also in need of some major self-love space, here are Erwin's top five tips for slowing down and creating time for yourself.
1. Take A Deep Breath
"When you find yourself in the midst of overwhelm, the first thing to do is take a deep breath. Put your hand on your heart, and tell yourself all is well," Erwin says. "Ask yourself what it is [your] spirit craves right now and then find a way to make that happen. If you can't do it in that moment, schedule a time and make it a priority. Sometimes just having something to look forward to or knowing you have something planned out for yourself can give you peace in the present."
2. Learn To Say No
Erwin says that often the "disease to please" is what gets us in situations in which we feel overwhelmed. "We say yes for fear we are letting others down by saying no," Erwin says, yet, "we innately know when we want to say no. We get that tug in our gut or knee jerk reaction that signals our red flag warning of NOT A FIT. We often talk ourselves out of it and then kick ourselves later for saying yes to something we knew deep down was an emphatic no." Because of this, we must learn to say no unapologetically — a true friend won't be upset by your no if you tell them you just have too much on your plate.
3. Think Before You Answer
And if you have trouble saying no, or if you find that you often say yes and mean it in the moment without really thinking through the the amount of time and work that yes will ultimately mean, don't be afraid to tell someone you need a day to think about it because you have a lot on your plate. "We can think we are 'missing out' on opportunities when we live in an abundant universe full of them," Erwin says, but really, "we miss out when we are overwhelmed and unfocused."
4. Live In The 3 Ds — Delegate, Do, Or Delete
Erwin also stresses the importance of prioritizing your tasks, and recommends living by what she calls the three Ds — delegate, do, or delete. "Evaluate what you have on your plate," Erwin says. "Truly honor yourself and give yourself permission to take something off that isn't serving you. Really give yourself permission to do that. You may think you are dropping the ball, when in reality you are just bouncing it to someone else."
I personally find that it's sometimes helpful to take a step back and think, "Is it really such a big deal in the long run if this task doesn't get done? Will anyone actually be hurt." The majority of the time, the answer is a resounding no.
5. Reconnect With Something You Love
Erwin stresses that one of the best ways to get reconnected with ourselves, and therefore one of the best ways to prioritize our needs, it to connect with an activity that we truly love to do. "Usually it is something we loved to do as children," she says, "Dance, paint, color, play music, be in nature. All the things that connect us to our essence and the essence of The Universe. When we are plugged into ourselves, we naturally express ourselves authentically. We will be more inclined to ask for what we need and say no to that which does not serve us."
Carving out time for ourselves can sometimes seem impossible, but it's incredibly important if we're going to get the most out of our lives. As Erwin says, "We are instructed on flights to put the oxygen on ourselves first [...] so that we have enough oxygen to help others," going on to note that, "when we are plugged into ourselves, we naturally express ourselves authentically. We will be more inclined to ask for what we need and say no to that which does not serve us."
So don't be afraid to listen to and honor that little voice that tells you what you really need — you might just find it knows a thing or two!